Ukraine has filed a lawsuit at the UN's top court accusing Russia of sponsoring "terrorism" and illicitly funding separatist rebel groups - charges Russia denies. Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, and fighting broke out in eastern Ukraine the following month between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces, a conflict in which close to 10,000 people have been killed. In the case announced on Tuesday by the International Court of Justice, Ukraine accused Russia of "intervening militarily in Ukraine, financing acts of terrorism and violating the human rights of millions of Ukraine's citizens". Ukraine further alleged that the takeover of Crimea "brazenly defied the UN Charter, seizing a part of Ukraine's sovereign territory by military force". Russia has repeatedly denied sending troops or military equipment to eastern Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine traded blame for the confrontation that raised the specter of a full-blown conflict between the neighbors. Ukraine said its vessels were heading to the Sea of Azov in line with international maritime rules, while Russia charged that they had failed to obtain permission to pass through the narrow Kerch Strait that is spanned by a bridge that Russia completed this year.